The Bloc has fortified its creative offering with the hiring of H4B Chelsea president and chief creative officer Christian Bauman. Bauman, who spent 13 of his 15 years as a Havas employee at H4B Chelsea, starts today as The Bloc’s chief creative officer.

The addition represents a coup for The Bloc as it attempts to invigorate its creative process, according to president and CEO Jennifer Matthews. “What it says is that we mean business,” she said.

While Bauman wasn’t actively looking to leave H4B Chelsea, he said that he has always remained “open-minded” to new opportunities. “I was never sure it would be possible to lure me away from the agency I built, but The Bloc is that kind of place and Jen is that kind of leader,” he said.

Bauman has a different background from most agency creatives and leaders. He served with the U.S. Army Waterborne between 1991 and 1995, including tours of Somalia and Haiti. He has written three novels and served as a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. During the week between the end of his H4B Chelsea tenure and his arrival at The Bloc, he spent two full days chopping wood — “total lumberjacking,” as he put it with a laugh.

The move to The Bloc came together quickly. At the beginning of the year, Matthews started a search for top creative talent. “We needed different leadership at the top,” she acknowledged.

When she and her lieutenants asked around about potential fits, Bauman’s name came up several times. Bauman met her for what he considered at the time “a courtesy lunch,” but the two hit it off right away.

“We were speaking the same language,” he said, adding that personal commonalities added to the connection: “I was a soldier, her son was a soldier. There were just so many shared interests.”

The Bloc’s reputation didn’t exactly hurt Matthews’ recruitment effort. “It’s the Droga5 of healthcare, the most exciting independent agency in healthcare,” Bauman said. “It’s one of the most respected independent agencies, period, in any space.”

With Bauman installed as creative leader, Matthews believes The Bloc has all the pieces in place to grow considerably in the years ahead.

“We have big plans to scale the organization in a substantive way,” she said. Asked whether those ambitions could prompt the agency’s leadership to sit down with outside investors, Matthews responded, “All strategies are on the table in terms of helping drive growth… It’s time to take it next-level.”

Violet Aldaia, co-president of H4B Chelsea with Bauman since her arrival from Daggerwing Health in September 2020, assumes full leadership of the firm, viewed as one of the flagship agency brands in the Havas Health & You stable.